I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and I’ve never been big on making desserts. It’s a bit of an Achilles' Heel for me, so I was excited last week to connect with a new reader of the site, Jim van Bergen. He found Stay at Stove Dad while after looking online for wines for an upcoming party and coming across my post about the 2008 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon. Jim is a committed oenophile, and I hope to talk more with him about wine, but in the meantime he was wiling to tell me about his secret weapon as a dad who cooks: The Delicious Hot Dessert.
I watched Michael DeVidts,from New Orleans School of Cooking, make his N.O.S.C. Bread Pudding at a demonstration. I was fascinated, and went home made it successfully, and was then fully fueled to adapt it to be my own: healthier, and family friendly. I replaced canned fruit and dry coconut with fresh apples (a family favorite), and the flavor-packed, highly nutritious blueberry. I reduced the sugars, cholesterol, calories and fat content, introduced raw and natural ingredients (it's great with almond milk, brown sugar and honey in place of cane sugar!) and radically changed his sauce directives.
The sauce to me is about decadence: great rich flavor, and not the alcohol. So I flame the sauce every time and burn off much of the alcohol, and caramelize some of the loose sugar left in the sauce, which is a nice touch. The version here is more public-friendly, as few people want a recipe with organic brown sugar, almond milk and agave. They want what is comfortable to them, and in their cupboards.
Bead pudding is a crowd-pleaser. It’s dense, full of great fruit flavor, and tastes wonderful either by itself, a la mode, and with or without the hard sauce. My neighbors adore the sauce on this bread pudding (even the non-drinkers) and I expect you will too.
It’s a lot of fun to make with your kids- they can tear the bread up, chop apples while supervised, mix the various elements, and stir the mixture using bare hands- just remember to wash hands with soap and warm water before and after cooking, ok dads? And don’t let the kids taste the hard sauce. They can have chocolate sauce or ice cream instead.
Bread pudding was originally a simple way to use up the old bread and aging fruit instead of throwing them out, so it’s easy to substitute other fruit. It works great with pineapple, banana, papaya, or raspberries. Experiment, or use what is at hand.
One of the great things about this recipe is the ease and flexibility it has while retaining the great qualities of a luxurious baked dessert. My younger daughter saw me combining the wet portion with the dry in the kitchen, and said, "Daddy, I like your bread pudding, but I'm not in much of a blueberry mood tonight. Can you maybe make it half and half?" Knowing she'd eat one portion of the 12 this would make, I did a half-and half on the fly, splitting the mix into two bowls to split the fruit up. It worked like a charm.
Jim van Bergen is a New York based sound designer, audio engineer, and production manager working in the entertainment industry, currently mixing "RAIN" on Broadway. He lives and cooks in Queens with his wife and two "tweenage" daughters.
JvB’s Apple Blueberry Bread Pudding with Macallan 15 Sauce
- 2 large mixing bowls
- 9x12 (large) deep baking dish
- 1 small sauce pan
- 1 Loaf Day-Old French/Italian Bread, crumbled (or 6-8 Cups any type of bread broken in to 1” chunks)
- 1 cup cane/white sugar
- 1/2 Cup brown sugar + approx 2 tsp (separately) to top pudding
- 2 tbsp. Cinnamon + 1 tsp (separately) to top pudding
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 3 cups milk or vanilla soy
- 4 tbsp butter, softened
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups (or handfuls) of blueberries
- 2 Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, & chopped into small pieces
Rip/tear/crumble bread into medium (approximately 1”) chunks.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Grease sides and bottom of baking dish by using the paper that the butter comes in. (Just rub it on the side and bottom of the pan.) Set baking dish aside.
Melt butter in sauce pan. Mix melted butter, eggs, vanilla and milk in 2nd bowl.
Slowly pour in wet mix over dry mix and mix well by hand. Add berries and chopped apple. Mixture should be very moist but not soupy. (If soupy, add/mix in more chunks of any other bread until consistency is correct and not soupy.)
Transfer mixture evenly into buttered 9 X 12 baking/casserole dish or larger.
Sprinkle brown sugar sparsely on top to help achieve golden crust.
Place into non-preheated oven. Bake at 350 deg. for approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes, until top is golden brown. Serve warm with sauce drizzled on top.
Macallan 15 (Hard) Sauce
- 8 tbsp. butter (1 stick)
- 1& 1/2 cups blends of powdered sugar, (or substitute brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar)
- 1 cup Macallan 15 year-old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey (or hard liquor of your choice)
Cream butter and sweeteners over medium heat until all butter is absorbed.
Pour in liquor gradually to your own taste, stirring constantly. Remove when well blended. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Spoon warm liquid over bread pudding as served. Some of my friends have told me they use a lot more liquor. I suggest you start with a tablespoon per serving, for flavor. You can also flame the mixture to burn off alcohol if you are comfortable with large open flame.
Two notes on the sauce:
1) Many recipes suggest you use whatever liquor is cheap and at hand, I disagree completely. Use what is delicious, smells enticing, and is flavorful. People prefer this with high end whisky: I’ve used Macallan 10 and 15, Oban, Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or, Woodford Reserve, and Maker’s 46.
2) When the pudding is in the oven, first clean up the kitchen, and then make the sauce.